How Long Should a Cover Letter Be? Keep it Concise or Highly Detailed?

March 20, 2018 2:50 am by

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How Long Should Your Cover Letter be in 2018?

Cover letters, much like resumes, will vary in length depending on the position you are applying for and what is applicable to include. For many positions you apply for, cover letters are no longer necessary and may not be read at all. Others will require you to submit a cover letter with your resume to be considered for the position.

The Purpose of a Cover Letter

A cover letter is not meant to repeat what is on your resume. It is a chance to show some insight into your character, discuss your expertise and display your interest for the position you are applying for. You want to maintain professionalism while showing personality. The purpose is to introduce yourself, demonstrate your interest, draw attention to your resume and motivate the reader to meet with you.

How Important is the Length?

Your cover letter should be concise. It should be one page and divided into three to four paragraphs. If it is too short, employers might think you don’t care much about the job. If it is too long, they may not take the time to read it. Almost 70% of employers want to see a cover letter that is less than a full page.

What You Should Include in Your Cover Letter

Your name and contact details

This seems simple but you would be surprised. Don’t get so wrapped up in the body of the letter that you forget the basics.

Their name and contact details

Whenever possible, address your cover letter to the specific person rather than “To Whom It May Concern”. Do your best to research the person responsible for hiring. If it is not listed in the job description, don’t be afraid to call and find out who it should be addressed to.

Paragraph One

The first paragraph should indicate the reason you are writing and how you learned about the position. Include attention grabbing, yet professional, information.

Paragraph Two

The second paragraph should be  used to explain your qualifications and highlight with specific examples how your skills, experience or research match what the employer is seeking.

Paragraph Three

The third paragraph should be used as a closing paragraph to thank the reader for their consideration and to request an opportunity to meet to discuss the position further. You can put your contact information here so the employer knows the best way to reach you or be more proactive and let them know when you will be following up.

Remember, Formatting is Just as Important as Length

The format of your cover letter can be just as important as the length. As odd as it may sound, you always want a good amount of white space on the paper to prevent it from looking too cluttered and difficult to read.

Font and Text Size

You want to choose a font that is legible in a readable font size. A typical 12 point font is usually the best choice.

Margins

Your margins should be one inch all around, with the text aligned to the left.

Spacing

You should leave space between paragraphs, as well as between your salutation and the text (and between your text and the signature), so that your letter is easy to read.

Proofread

It’s an obvious do, but so important. If you have grammatical errors or misspellings, this can immediately disqualify you from being considered for a position. Employers often view this as being careless and an inability to write effectively. Always proofread and whenever possible, have someone else proofread it for you as well.

Your Cover Letter is a Marketing Tool, Not an Autobiography

Your cover letter should be designed to highlight your most relevant qualifications for the job and what you have to offer the employer. The goal of the cover letter is to grab the reader’s attention by convincing them you are a great candidate, make them want to read your resume and profile, and, of course, call you in for an interview so you can sell yourself in person.

 

Job Seeker Tips: How to List a Staffing Agency on Your Resume

March 12, 2018 4:26 am by

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How to List a Staffing Agency on Your Resume

Employment agencies, or staffing agencies, help candidates find short-term as well as temporary work (even long-term in a lot of cases). Hiring managers consider these positions credible and noteworthy work history so if you have worked these types of assignments, you should include them on your resume. This can be tricky when trying to determine who you list as the employer, deciding how to list multiple assignments and how to include who you worked for while still keeping the focus on your experience and achievements. Here are a few tips on how to list agencies you have worked for in an appealing way.

Step 1: Getting Your Formatting Right

When listing temporary work on your resume, ensure they are included in reverse chronological order. Generally speaking this should be the case with all jobs you list on your resume unless you have held a position that is directly relevant to the position that you are applying for and the other positions you held aren’t. Listing jobs you have held in reverse chronological order (with the most recent at the top of your resume) makes it easy for potential employers to review your recent work history without having to piece together a timeline.

Step 2: Add the Staffing Agency as your Employer

In a temporary contract agreement, you are working on behalf of the staffing agency, not the company you are assigned to for the duration of the contract. You can still include the name of the company you were assigned to but if you worked multiple assignments this can become too  much on your resume. List the employment agency as your employer, put the positions you worked, skills you acquired and accomplishments you had. You will have an opportunity to go into more detail about where you were assigned during an interview if the hiring manager interviewing you is interested in that information. If you were assigned to work for a company that you feel carries more weight or is directly applicable to the position you are applying for, you can include it.

Step 3: Add your Temporary Jobs

If you have worked multiple assignments with a staffing agency, list the agency as the employer once, then list the different positions you held underneath. Be sure to include the dates of each assignment next to the job title. You may have worked for an agency for two years but held four different positions. If you list each position as a separate job, your resume will quickly become too long but it is still important to put the different types of jobs you had. The focus of your resume should be on your employable skills and qualifications rather than a list of different jobs and employers. If you worked multiple assignments for one agency, consider using the space to details what you did rather than who it was for.

Step 4: Reference your Roles

Under your temporary jobs, list the roles you have undertaken and the main duties you were responsible for in each position. This will allow you to succinctly state what you have done, learned and accomplished without overwhelming the reader. Positions through staffing agencies can often have more generic titles so it is important to include the specific responsibilities and job duties you had. Again, the goal of your resume is to highlight your employable skills so put more focus and dedicate more space to those.

Step 5: Highlight your Achievements

It’s important to highlight your key achievements in each role you have undertaken, and explain how they’ve helped you gain the skills to provide value to your potential employer. Try to include 2-3 accomplishments for each job. Even short-term work can offer valuable skills that you can apply to future jobs.

Temp Jobs Belong on Your Resume

Listing your work through a staffing agency will benefit you in many ways. Employers usually don’t like to see gaps in employment and if there are gaps, they want you to have a good reason for it. Work through an agency is still work and shows that you were motivated to stay employed. There are many reasons why people take temporary work or work through an agency and it is becoming more and more common. Employers are familiar with seeing it on resumes and will typically treat it like any other kind of work. It is also an added opportunity to demonstrate your employable skills and how you have used them. This includes soft skills as well such as flexibility and adaptability.

Bonus Tips

Always make it clear that you worked through an employment agency or staffing service, not as an employee of the employer. You should always be very careful to make sure that your resume doesn’t come across as a misrepresentation of you or your work history. You don’t want to have to clarify something that comes across as untruthful. You can still speak to the specific employers and positions you were placed in.

Arrange temporary work assignments by date, especially if you are using a format that details work history, such as a chronological format. Resumes that are well organized are always easier to read and will not be looked over as easily by hiring managers. Almost all employers will want to know the dates of the jobs you have held. It is important for them to be able to see how long you were employed, how long ago it was and if there are gaps in your employment history. It is better to  include this up front rather than leave them wondering.

10 soft skills that all employers actually look for in new hires

March 12, 2018 4:22 am by

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The Desired Soft Skills Employers Love and Want From You

You’re looking for a job but so are a lot of people. A lot of your competition for positions have the same skill set you do. Unless you have some fantastic experience , you may be one of many applicants that have very similar resumes. What will distinguish you from the other candidates? Your soft skills.

What are Soft Skills?

Think of soft skills as your personal skills. They are personal attribute-driven general skills such as the ability to give and receive feedback, work collaboratively, and manage time. They are usually self-developed as opposed to hard skills that are developed through schooling or work experience. They may come naturally to you or they may be something that you have worked to develop through personal growth opportunities.

Why are Soft Skills Desirable?

Soft skills may seem basic and simple but they are difficult for employers to find so they are impressed by candidates who can demonstrate them. Research has shown that a person’s soft skills can be just as good of an indicator of a person’s job performance as the hard skills they possess. Employers recognize that they can train just about anyone to do anything but there are some things that can’t be trained. If the applicant isn’t bringing those skills to the table in the beginning, the chance of them acquiring them over time is slim.

A Positive Attitude and Outlook on Life

A positive attitude makes all the difference in a work environment. It can do wonders in turning a department or company around. Having employees who possess a positive attitude can also be contagious. Employers will seek out this energy since it only takes a few negative people to bring down a department. People want to work with people they like. They are drawn to people who are easygoing, optimistic, and even fun to be around.

Drive and Work Ethic

This is one you won’t learn in school. It’s either part of your DNA or your parents taught it to you. Employers struggle to find employees who make work a priority. Employers are looking for employees that take initiative, are reliable and can do the right job the first time. Employees with drive and work ethic are always hungry for more. They chase success in their job, no matter what job they are doing. You won’t see them settling for mediocre and this usually applies to all areas of their lives. These innate attributes are out of the control of an employer no matter that type of training they provide.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

This is a broad category. It can be anything from how to talk to clients to how well you get your point across in inter-office emails. More than just clearly speaking the language, communication skills involve active listening and excellent presentation and writing capabilities. If you have a chance to take a class on communication skills, it’s well worth your time. It is one of the most crucial soft skills in any job in any industry.

Time Management

For a results-oriented employee, good time management skills are key to getting assignments accomplished and finishing them on time. Time management is more than just working hard and not goofing off. It means getting the most out of each day and getting the most important things done first. It can be the ability to delegate assignments to others when needed and learning to manage your time to create maximum efficiency.

Team Player

Unless you are working in a job where you are completely independent and have no interaction with others, being a team player will be critical to your success. This means believing that others know how to do the job and having the faith in them to do their part. The bigger the company you work for, the higher the likelihood that you will be a part of more than one team. In addition to being able to work with others, it is also the ability to display empathy toward others which is unfortunately hard to find.

Leadership

This could, quite possibly, be the most important of all of the soft skills. No matter what the job is, most employers are looking for someone who can grow beyond that job. In order to be an effective leader, you need all the other soft skills as well. Leadership skills can really be seen as a combination of all the others. Leaders are people who can not only work well with a team but can take the reins and make the rest of the team better.

Ability to Digest New Information and Learn Fast

The world is constantly changing and we are seeing this happen at a faster and faster rate. This applies to the business world as much as any other. Employers have less and less time for training and are looking for employees who can learn their job and learn it fast. This doesn’t mean just learning the job once. Odds are your job will be constantly changing as technology and business practices change. Showing the ability to adjust, learn new skills and learn them quickly will make you a valuable asset.

Ability to Work Under Pressure

We live in a fast paced, high pressure world and this is especially apparent in business. Everything seems to be moving faster and faster. This kind of pressure can break a lot of people and not being able to handle it will hurt the whole team. Employers want to know that you’re not afraid of a challenge, that you can manage stress well and that you don’t shy away from high pressure situations.

Problem Solving Skills

Since problems are inevitable, employees who are able to find solutions to daily challenges that arise are most valuable to an organization. This can sometimes mean that when you are unable to find a solution you aren’t afraid to seek out the advice of others. Employers want to know you can think logically and come up with ways to work around problems. This kind of thinking leads to innovation and improvements within the company.

Flexibility

The way companies do business in today’s competitive market is changing all the time. The ability to remain adaptable helps an organization move forward and stay current with the times. The ability to pick up on new technologies and adjust to changing business surroundings is critically important now more so than ever.

Think of your soft skills as accessories to your training in your field. By themselves they can’t qualify you for a job but when paired with your hard skills they can make you a much more attractive candidate. Be sure to include them on your resume and be prepared to demonstrate them in your interview.